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Showing posts with label disability living allowance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label disability living allowance. Show all posts

1 Oct 2018

Conditional discharge for benefit fraud

A benefit cheat who claimed that she had serious mobility problems because of arthritis was secretly filmed walking two dogs and going shopping without difficulties.

She fiddled more than £8,300 in wrongful disability living allowance payments after her condition "dramatically" improved, a court heard.

Georgina Parkinson, 68, from Flixborough, denied failing to notify a change of circumstances affecting her entitlement to disability living allowance between March 4, 2015 and April 26, 2016. She was convicted by a jury at Grimsby Crown Court after a trial.

Simon Clegg, prosecuting, said that Parkinson claimed disability living allowance from the 1990s because of health problems. She completed forms in 2005 and 2013 about her condition but, during 2015 and 2016, her problems "dramatically" improved so much that she should have told the benefits authorities.

Parkinson later told investigators: "I have good days. I have bad days."

A fraud investigator secretly filmed Parkinson 10 times walking without any problems. She was seen walking two dogs at a "steady pace" from her home to a distance half a mile away before returning. On another occasion, she was seen parking but not in a disabled space, walking to go inside a Home Bargains store and pushing a trolley.

Parkinson had previously declared in forms that she needed a "Zimmer frame or walking sticks" and that she had falls and that her "legs give way without warning". She claimed that she could walk only short distances and suffered from arthritis in both knees, her spine, her neck and her thumbs.

In 2015, she declared that she had physical problems restricting her walking "all the time" and that she was "very slow" because she got very breathless with pain in her back and legs. She claimed: "I never go out without someone with me as I have had a lot of falls."

The court heard that she was not fit enough to do unpaid work, did not need supervision and could not afford a fine. A prison sentence was ruled out because it did not come under the sentencing guidelines for the amount of money involved.

She was, therefore, given a two-year conditional discharge.

Source with picture

12 Mar 2018

Jail for £65k benefit fraudster after slow investigation

A man who claimed he was so incapacitated he couldn’t put his own socks on was in fact working as a builder and kitchen fitter, a court has heard.

Over a period of six years Keith Webster fraudulently claimed more than £65,000 in benefits, including disability living allowance and income support.

Swansea Crown Court heard that at one stage Webster had more than £60,000 in savings in the bank, and was working as a handyman and second-hand car dealer while still claiming benefits.

Sending him to prison, a judge told the 59-year-old that in the current difficult economic times, the welfare system was there for people who genuinely needed help.

Eugene Egan, prosecuting, said that over the course of six years Webster claimed council tax and housing benefit, employment support allowance, income support and disability living allowance totalling some £65,424.88.

The claims were made on the basis that he was unable to work, had little in the way of savings, and needed help with day-to-day chores such as cleaning and shopping.

The court heard he claimed he could not walk more than 40 yards due to his physical ailments, and was not able to put his own socks on.

However, an undercover surveillance team for the Department of Work and Pensions caught him on camera actually running his own home-improvement business, KW Installations, and working as a handyman and builder.

The footage was from April 2016 - nearly two years ago.

When interviewed under caution by investigators, he admitted the scam, saying he was “bang to rights”.

The prosecutor said bank records subsequently showed Webster regularly had savings “well over” the £16,000 benefit claim limit, and on occasions his capital was in excess of £60,000.

Webster, from Waunarlwydd, Swansea, had previously pleaded guilty to six counts of dishonestly failing to notify the authorities about a change of circumstance when he appeared in the dock for sentencing.

Mark Davies, for Webster, said his client had suffered a fall in 1995 which led to a degenerative back condition, and an initially legitimate claim for benefits. However, he said his client accepted the claim had later become dishonest, and he was remorseful for his actions.

The advocate added that while some members of the defendant’s family supported him, others had not spoken to him since reading about his fraudulent activities in the South Wales Evening Post.

The court heard Webster was currently repaying the benefits he wrongly claimed, and had so far paid back some £5,000.

Judge Christopher Clee QC told Webster: “This was thoroughly dishonest behaviour committed over a significant period of time. The reality is, you worked as a self-employed builder, and bought and sold cars. In these difficult times the benefit system is there for people who need it - not for people like you. Those who claim benefits over a significant period of time to which they are not entitled must expect prison.”

The judge said the starting point for the offences was 18 months custody - giving Webster credit for his guilty plea, that was reduced to 12 months, half of which he will serve in prison before being released.

The CPS said that at the time of his arrest Webster had more than £33,000 in the bank.

Hywel Rees, of the CPS, said: “Keith Webster fabricated a spinal injury to claim more than £65,000 in benefits. Despite his claims that he struggled day to day, he was found to be running a building business.  The CPS presented evidence which included CCTV of Webster lifting items in and out of his work van and carrying out tasks with ease, leading Webster to plead guilty.”

A timetable was set out for action to recover the outstanding money via Proceeds of Crime Act measures.

Source with pictures

13 Jun 2014

Benefit thief lied about his disability

A welfare cheat who took £20,000 in state handouts by claiming he could barely walk was caught working as a delivery driver - and climbing over walls. (h/t Dave)

Steven Higgins, 50, told the Department for Work and Pensions he was in constant pain, needed a walking stick and even required help cooking meals at home.

But a fraud investigator saw him using steps and carrying out his business as a courier without any discomfort and was even seen to climb over walls.

Inquiries revealed Higgins of Crawshawbooth, near Rossendale in Lancashire, had claimed Disability Living Allowance (DLA) over five years and netted £19,492.

He is no longer in receipt of the benefit - yet is appealing the DWP’s decision to remove it.

At Burnley magistrates' court, Higgins admitted two counts of dishonestly making a false statement to obtain a benefit, between May 9, 2008 and September 10, 2013.

He was sentenced to 18 weeks in prison, suspended for a year, and was ordered to pay £85 costs and an £80 victim surcharge.

Prosecutor Andrew Robinson said Higgins made his claim for DLA, saying he could walk less than 20 metres in seven to 10 minutes and that would permanently be the case.

He told the DWP he sometimes needed a walking stick, was in constant pain, would not feel comfortable out on his own and needed help at home. Higgins also claimed he could not prepare meals.

But Mr Robinson said evidence was available to show his situation changed and was no longer as severe as his original claim.

He was self-employed as a courier driver for a company and had not notified the department of this or any improvement in his condition.

The prosecutor said a fraud investigator saw the defendant working and he was observed climbing over walls, using steps and 'going about his business in a normal manner with no discomfort.'

Mr Robinson added it was not a fraud from the outset. The defendant, who had no previous convictions, had not yet repaid any of the money.

In mitigation Jeremy Frain, defending, said the criminality was not the fact Higgins was working. But there was an 'indiscretion' if a person put on the original claim form they could only walk five feet without having to stop for a breather and were discovered to have walked six or seven feet without stopping.

The defendant had attended a rheumatology clinic and Mr Frain read out part of a medical letter, which stated his client had 'progressive destructive disease' and marked damage to his hands and feet which would undoubtedly limit his ability to perform daily functions. Mr Frain said Higgins had been suffering anxiety and had to have treatment as a result of the protracted court proceedings.

The solicitor added: 'I am quite sure he’s extremely remorseful. He’s terrified at the prospect of an immediate custodial sentence. It’s his first conviction and he loses his good name because of this. I don’t think for one minute it will be repeated. At the moment he’s not in receipt of DLA and it will be the subject of an appeal. He regards himself as trying to help himself by working to keep him going, rather than sitting sedentary at home and his condition getting worse rather than better. This is a serious matter but I would ask you to give him a chance to retain his liberty. The family are generally very much in debt.'

After the case, Jane Baker, DWP Fraud Manager in the North West, said: 'It is unfair that some people get support when they do not have a disability, while many people depend on the benefits system to provide a safety net. We are determined to find those who we suspect are cheating the system by following up on tip-offs, undertaking surveillance and working with local councils. If you suspect someone of benefit fraud, please call the Benefit Fraud Hotline on 0800 854 440 so we can continue to tackle the problem in your area.'